The Typecasting Couch

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Lately I’ve run into a spate of people (though not risen to the level of plethora) who stubbornly refuse to date this guy or that girl because “they aren’t My Type”. End of discussion. Not coincidently they are, to a man (or woman) keenly lonely. And that breaks my heart because I’ve learned a lesson or two about being loyal to My Type.

For a good 20 years you could sew by the pattern of My Type. So practiced at it was I that I’ll condense it down for you right here; Little Stoner Girls Looking for Daddy. Bonus points for little titties and red hair. The closer you were to that, the more I was smitten. The further from it, the less visible you were to me at all as a potential partner. It was on par with being a love geiger counter. Only it took me those 20 years to grasp that the louder the clacking the more radioactive the relationship was going to be. Because the more you were My Type, the more I was going to practice working from my script of who I thought I was and how I thought I needed to act. And you were going to love me back. And it was going to be uh-MAZ-ing. And it was. Until the very same intense fire that created that passion also burned everything down around us. Every goddamn time. Brand loyalty to My Type gave me license to act a part in a script that you had no idea you were reading for. And largely I had no idea either. It often got fugly.

:::clackityclackbzzzclackclack:::

Each attempt more toxic and shorter lived, the more I held rigidly to the idea of the Holy Grail of lovers – the Unicorn! The shining exception to the golden rule of dating: crazy in the head, crazy in the bed! The longer I pursued it the less epic it became until from the outside looking in it was more reminiscent of Monty Python than King Arthur. Indeed I’d become the Black Knight, ineffectually bleeding on things while demanding loyalty to My Type as the one true way to love for me. Shiny had become glaring. I was loyal alright. Loyal to my suffering. Because never deviating wasn’t honorable. It wasn’t even being true to myself. It was only being lazy and scared with great conviction. The really douchey part was that by seeing you as a ‘type’ I also wasn’t seeing you as a person. What a dick!

Here’s what’s helped break my self-deluded spell.

Chaos.

It gets a bad rap in our society but Chaos was the key to smashing My Type. First of all I stopped dating. I know, the next boy or girl you have on your My Type radar has potential. Trust me, it’s the same shit. Because you’re the same. So just fucking stop. Take a breather. Remember who you are when you aren’t trying to complete you at someone else’s expense. Write. Go strange places. With new friends. Or really old friends. Don’t fuck them. Pay attention to what feelings come up when you don’t fuck them. Write about them. Breaking patterns creates chaos. It jars me awake when I didn’t know I was comatose. Only do it while being present. You’ll learn incredible things about yourself. You’ll finally see some ick about yourself that you can actually sluff off and walk away from. Keep writing. Double dog dare yourself to do new things. Discover who you’ve become while you were busy thinking you were someone else in an ill-fitting suit or dress.

That brilliant sense of alertness? The sharper colors? Vivid scents in the air? Those laughs from your belly? Chaos. Write about it. Putting it down on paper essentially makes a contract with myself that this is who I am today. Feel free to tear it up tomorrow. But writing it down cements that I, in fact, am awake!

Now date someone different. Someone outside Your Type. Be awkward. Don’t feel instant lust. Don’t have any idea what charming, clever thing to say. Put the fucking script down, because it isn’t who you are anymore. Just look across the table at this new person, take a deep breath, exhale. And be genuine. You’ll be shocked at what falls out your mouth.

You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose and the world to gain by being who you are with people who expect nothing else. Have an adventure.

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#Not All Men (Are Cowards)

You probably think the guy who shot up Santa Barbara because women owed him is a psycho. But if you’ve pressured a woman for sex, exclaimed “I’d hit that!”, called her a whore or a slut when she didn’t act right, made her feel creeped out or unsafe by how you look at her, touched without permission, scorned or punished her for not putting out, or lack the ability to hold a conversation that isn’t rife with innuendo then you’re part of the same psyche that felt the need to make women pay.
NEWSFLASH women are human beings, not a life support system for a pussy. Stop for a minute and flip it backwards – what would you think of a person who treated you the way you treat the women in your life? Think about it.

UPDATE: I caught massive shit for posting this. Even so far as to be called a traitor to my gender. I couldn’t be prouder. I am not a traitor. I want to shove my gender kicking and screaming into the 21st century that it might earn the dignity of being humane.

God’s Country II – Electric Boogaloo

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An image that keeps playing back over in my mind since I’ve been here happened the first night we tried to hit a meeting. There were a couple listed as close to us so we ventured forth in search of bad coffee and like minds. Our first choice was several blocks up from our house and though I’d been warned that it’s not adviseable to be anywhere along I-10 if I wasnt in a car I figured what the hell. Up the road we went, lovely tree lined streets and restored buildings cheering us along.

The further out we went though, the less care seemed to be taken in their upkeep. Boarded windows, tall grass, abandoned cars and trash encrouched on the less frequently lovely old homes. We finally came up on the church where the meeting was listed at and were confronted with a long sign across the side of its entrance. There it listed some 200 names subheading the years 2007 & 2008. Next to each name was the person’s demise. And no meeting. I checked my gps and found another meeting a little back the way we came and several blocks up, running the perimeter of what is considered the good and bad side of town.

Off we went, recalculated and further determined, marching turf I hadnt cruised since the bad old days of making drops. It’s funny how all of it comes back to you; how you carry yourself, move your arms, enough eye contact to claim your business without unnecessarily challenging, who to nod at and who not. All the while keeping in mind my girl’s protection whilst not reading like I thought I needed to as eyes followed us.

And then it happened.
Along the very wide grassy and tree filled corridor separating east and westbound traffic was one of the most surreal things I’ve ever seen, like Oliver Stone hallucination scene stunning; a black kid, maybe 12 years old trotting along the grass atop a gorgeous horse, bareback. And I mean this steed was majestic. Like those spanish show horses I’ve seen on tv. Big, flowing tan mane and tail, prancing, toned physique. Juxtaposed against a bustling road. Staged behind working class, abject poverty. It stopped me in my tracks. And i smiled. Ackowledging it changed everything. They were off about their business, just as we were. Just as everyone else was. Only now I saw the laughter as we made our way up the road to a new meeting where they didnt do it right. And I didnt mind one bit.

For those of you who used to read my blog posts here is God’s Country the original story, regarding steps, perception and having a servant’s heart. Enjoy!

Breaking the String In My Back

 

Lately I’ve been sort of floundering and rudderless. My life is fairly busy and full with friends, sponsees, girlfriend, family, various adventures, 4th Dimension… but with my career in my rear view mirror for just about 2 years now I dont really feel too much like I have a point other than to maintain the shit that I can do blindfolded.
What keeps pushing its way through the mundane, auto-piloted, Charlie Brown’s teacher drivel (“Blah, blah Neil! Blah blah blahdiddyblah Neil!) that fills the hours in my head is this insistent thought that I need to write something. Not like AA inventory number 71. But something substantive. Two things keep popping up over and over. Either fleshing my blog style out to a series of essays ala The Prophet, because my writing style is designed for that, or a Guide through the 12 steps for Atheists.
I am of course drawn to the idea of the latter idea because it will by its nature cause controversy. Child of Chaos, guilty as charged.
But that’s not the point of why I’m writing this right now. The greater point is that for years now people have been telling me “OMG!!! You NEED to write a book!!!” (insert eye roll) to which I reflexively say, as if I was a Neil Action Figure and you’d just pulled a string in my back, “I used to draw all the time, hours a day when I was a kid. It was my emotional outlet and release. The day I started getting paid to do that, it stopped. Havent been able to draw just for funzies since. Writing is that outlet now and I dont dare fuck with that.” I’ve been saying that shit for years like a sad wistful Sam Jackson’s Jules in Pulp Fiction quoting Ezekiel 25:17 right before he shoots someone.
Except now it occurs to me that what if that isnt even true? Anymore? …or ever? What if that has been nothing but an eloquent weapon to swat people down with so they dont notice I’ve just been being loyal to my suffering and the only thing being shot dead after my soliloquy is Hope?
What then? What if I was to suddenly bitch slap one of my mostest sacredest of cows, step right into its personal space and call it out? What if I dared to step right through my comfort zone and do it different….?

So here’s the gauntlet thrown down. The double dog dare:
In the interest of psychic spring cleaning – what old paradigm, written in stone commandment are you willing to toss on it’s head because it’s no longer a lovely accessory, it’s just a fucking ball and chain.

Telling You What I Need to Hear

A month ago I started sponsoring a fellow who I’d known around the rooms for many years. He approached me because he’d heard that once upon a time I’d trafficked meth in sobriety and he figured I’d understand his addiction to power and adrenaline. True enough. As we were standing there I asked him if he had any digits in his phone that he knew he could make quick cash with. He said yes. My response was to kill em. Out came his cell and God bless the willingness of the desperate – delete, delete, …SIGH… delete.
I was so proud of him for the courage that took.

Two days later a very rude and uninvited thought popped into my head. Neil? Yes. Do you have the very same balls to delete the names from your cell and social networking sites that you know you can call to get a quick fix of validation?

Fuck.

I stewed on that one for another two days. Not because i needed to have a debate in both houses followed by a 2/3 super majority passage to enact. Oh no. The bald face truth of that double dog dare meant it was all over but the shouting. I spent that two days grieving the loss of one of my oldest and dearest safety nets. The clarity of what I HAD to do was unshakable; I could not, would not, ever have happiness in my life in a love relationship unless I stopped touching base with my past. Holding onto it, even with just a finger tip, was the death of my last relationship and would forever be in the way of my ability to be present with anything new in my future. You cant unknow something like that. So I either trust God or I dont. Fuck.

Delete, delete, delete, delete, delete, delete, …SIGH… delete.

And it was done. I’ll be damned if there wasnt a huge sense of relief that washed over me. And what’s this…? Hope? As with every other rock that I’ve grudgingly handed over to that Power I dont understand, i am amazed at how much lighter I feel after I surrender what wasnt truly mine in the first place. I feel right-sized again. Free. Buoyant. Better prepared for this next adventure. All because I told a guy what I needed to hear.

Apologies in advance to all of you that just said “Fuck.”

God’s Country

I’ve long been perturbed when people refer gushingly to places of expansive physical beauty as ‘God’s Country’. I always reflexively wonder what kind of God would favor Yosemite over Uganda? Does God not hang out in Los Banos? …Okay, maybe that’s a poor reference… but still.

This weekend I finally crashed under the weight of all my circumstances over the last eight months; lost career, lost leg, lost girl. The environment that had evolved by making my home so open to everyone had turned into a prison of sorts where I had nowhere to seek sanctuary. So I beat feet, jumped in my car and drove till I ran out of sunlight with a change of clothes, a credit card, three spiritual books and a pad of paper. Left behind was my lap top and the ever mischievous and increasingly conspiratorial FaceBook. I shut off my phone after letting a couple of people know that I was going to disappear for awhile and that I’d be back when my pen ran dry. I pulled into a shitty motel with a shitty diner attached to it and holed up.

I stood on the balcony that first night and exhaled a long draw from my cigar with a sense of wistful comfort. This flea bag joint was on the same stretch of road where 25 years ago I’d done business in my former lifetime running meth. Where I’d had to come running one summer night to find my partner spun out of his head, bent over the toilet in his chonies with a half pound in his hand, swearing the cops were there. Only he was right – the poor bastard was being tortured hearing the radio of one of the town’s finest as a hooker worked out her bill in the next room.

Ah, good times.

Only now it was cold, the wind was blowing angrily and the rain was relentless. I sought refuge at the fine dining establishment next door and saddled up to the counter. I’m not sure who was a more firmly ensconced piece of the building, the server, his woman by the register, or the crusty old timers at their well worn thrones further up the table. There was an ease amongst all of them and they welcomed me to their laughter as they razzed a busboy in two languages as he repeatedly failed miserably at snatching a stuffed toy with a wretched crane claw through a garishly lit glass stand. Dessert was blended with an equally good natured back and forth between the denizens threatening to theatrically sermonize and arguing about which language the Bible should be in.

It thawed me and I remembered back 20 years to my last holiday with my father. On the road back from San Diego visiting my sister, we got stuck in a roadside joint by pea soup fog on Christmas night. We all came together laughing and singing. Ma, who was a professional clown, making balloon animals for everyone and a crown for a bald girl whose dad was bringing her back from chemo up north. Magic only happens when you arent expecting it. i was grateful these new kindred souls invited me in and just as grateful that I could still be happily surprised by the gregariousness of strangers.

The next three days were an ebb and flow of writing, praying to nothing, reading, random connections with others on their way somewhere or looking to not be found and pretty mediocre food. But what kept coming up over and over was the love and mutual respect, unspoken as it was, that people had for each other. That they readily accepted me as being a part of. No one was there by accident and I was enlisted to help people with their rooms, borrow a phone, engaged in all sort of small talk to yard nods to profound discussion as I stood in my doorway along with everyone else as it continued to rain. I was one among on my own terms.

During the afternoon in the lull before the place started its nightly buzz I stood again on the balcony and watched as a girl folded towels for tomorrow’s house cleaning duties. To my right was a working girl engaging her boss and making her way down the stairs, that bold, swaying strut clacking time with each step in her spikes like a supremely sexy metronome. I thought to myself that they were both working and who really paid the higher price? And as i finished my rhetorical question she swung into the laundry room and laughed with the maid. It was beautiful to behold.

My last dinner at Chez Greasy Spoon was spent at a booth by myself and I observed all the goings on around me. There were at least four different dialects being spoken, lots of animation amongst the clutches of people as they ate. I was content to watch the show when a couple caught my eye. A young black father and his 3 year old daughter were in the booth next to me. he faced me directly though he never looked me in the eye. This didnt surprise me as we werent of the same clan so to speak. I was completely taken however at how he was with his little girl. He was very gentle, calm and soft spoken and always engaged her. And quite the little chatterbox she was. I marveled at his doting love for her, though not smothering. He was as a Daddy is supposed to be – a strong stable loving guide. When she spilled the maple syrup intended for her blueberry pancakes he only got up and grabbed a wet cloth to clean everything up with, then went back to sharing their meals with her, much to her protestations at the sanctity of HER flapjacks being violated. I was suddenly possessed of an urge to break the rules and hurriedly finished up my chicken fried roadkill and slipped up to the register. The same cashier was there from the previous night and he looked at me quizzically when I asked him if I could pay that gentleman’s bill along with mine. “Sure” he said and as he slid both tabs up to me he asked if I knew him. “Nope.” And he lit up as i finished by saying that it was a thanks for being such an amazing father.

I have no idea how that scene played out 10 minutes later but I’d forgotten how absolutely amazing it made me feel to practice random and (mostly) anonymous acts of kindness. I slept well that night. The din of wind and chatter outside as good a lullaby as I’ve ever heard.

The inventory is written and I’m back home. Ready to go for a long trip with a good friend across the southern U.S. An old sponsor of mine used to take a week every year and just disappear, usually to the desert. His home was very much like mine is now; a busy place full of love and recovery. Though with mine there is the added spice of debauchery. (You havent lived till you’ve stood in a circle reciting the Lord’s Prayer with a roommate’s fuck noises in the background.) Now I get why he needed to leave every now and then, headed to God’s Country to get filled up again. To meditate and contemplate who he had become since last time. Those three days of lousy weather in a crappy motel choring down barely edible food restored me. It was a long weekend in the middle of the week in God’s Country. Because God is wherever I bother to look around me and see.

Poker Face Gone Fishin’

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This morning I was staring at the very top of my wish list. The October 3 House of Blues New Orleans tour date for my currently favorite band in the world, The Dead Weather.

The ‘Buy Tickets’ button mocked me.

I clicked it with the expectation that such a cool gig could not possibly be anything but sold out.
I was wrong.

I checked my calendar with the surety that Shannon would have the kids that weekend.
Wrong again.

I clicked on the Raiders schedule, positive that I should have $100 50yd line tickets frowning at the idea of being hocked.
They’re in Houston that day.

I called my friend at American Airlines, confident that asking for weekend tickets a month away would be the deal breaker.
$260 round trip.

Clearly these were all signs from God that I should see the greatest band on the planet in a very hip club in the sexiest city in America. Yes to those club tix!
Yes to airfare! And suddenly i was giddy like a schoolgirl with front row Jonas Bros back stage passes. It was a strange and liberating thing to be that goddamn happy about something so… cool!
The only thing that made it even better was the slowly raising curtain on my girl’s face as she stared at the ticket on my lap top, rolling through a cliff notes version of the same hope, suspicion, validation and elation I’d spent the last 3 hours Sherping ahead of her, automatically ten times better because I get to share my adventure with my best friend and partner in crime. Now our date with The Dead Weather only accounts for 3 hours of our Friday through Monday window of hedonistic possibilities, but I think we’ll figure something out.

Because God said so.

http://www.houseofblues.com/tickets/eventdetail.php?eventid=59074

*sigh*